Neo-Concretismo came together in March 1959, when the Manifesto neoconcreto was published in the Jornal do Brasil—Rio de Janeiro’s leading newspaper—and signed by a group of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo artists who had been part of Grupo Frente (1954–56) and Arte concreta. Indeed, the Manifesto neoconcreto was written in reaction to the excessive rationalism of Concrete art practiced by the São Paulo-based members of the Grupo ruptura and the Concretistas. The Neo-Concrete group’s emphasis on the reincorporation of subjectivity and the experience of both real time and space in the experience of the viewer-as-participant in the work resulted in daring innovations that are well represented in the Leirner Collection. Among the holdings of Neo-Concrete works are six major constructions by Lygia Clark (1957 to 1965) that map this artist’s radical investigations of painting in relation to new dimensions of space-time as well as the active engagement of the spectator; three paintings and an objeto ativo [active object] by São Paulo artist Willys de Castro (1926–1988), which question the use of canvas as support for pictorial language; and three works by Hércules Barsotti (1914–2010), also from São Paulo, who rigorously explored the two-dimensional surface through his minimal, black-and-white abstractions.
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The majority of this text accompanied the exhibition Dimensions of Constructive Art in Brazil: The Adolpho Leirner Collection, presented at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, from May 20 to September 23, 2007. The exhibition was organized by Mari Carmen Ramírez, the Wortham Curator of Latin American Art and director of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas.
Our sincere thanks go to Adolpho Leirner, Mari Carmen Ramírez, María C. Gaztambide, Marty Stein, Matthew Lawson, Flora Brooks, and the Google Cultural Institute.
Design: Beatriz Olivetti and María Beatriz McGreger, ICAA-MFAH

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